Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Brainstorm -Beast in the Sky on Lasercave Records

Here's a crazy duo of Adam and Patrick out of Portland, OR called Brainstorm.
Lasercave, an art collective have released this tangible seven inch single among other things and these two rip through a really eclectic mix of styles and rhythms across the two tracks. The duo itself is it's own amazing rock category, stripping the creation and performance process down to just two people. An equal split of influences. You're going to have to collaborate at some point as a performing musician, and if one other person out there can deal with you for weeks in a van, while creating equally weirdo counter moves to your compositions...then you're going to end up with something that not many people can duplicate.

On 'Beast in the Sky' the closest thing I keep comparing them to is Abe Vigoda's crazy tropical, timpani almost synth percussion guitar... it's mathy, full of impressive time changes and rhythms with elements of funk...or that improv free jazz? They must know when they hit on that perfect weirdo melody and get to that Mahavishnu Orchestra place. It doesn't have so much to do with indie stylings as it does with hitting a groove with those classic influences. There's even a carnival organ melody, working against the heavily distorted guitar work. The sounds clearly serve the overall melody here, there isn't an overall ,aster plan so much as constant experimenting.
The internal call and response signing: Patrick starts every verse and Adam comes in right after in echo time about a very real god-like creature who lives in the sky and controls everything. It's a stretch but this collective myth idea might be in tandem with the fusion of primal drumming elements and vocal harmonies, they're going back to the basics in rhythms and musical forms, like those age old beliefs.

The B-Sides, 'Word up, Upward' is a slower more sparse composition with little bursts of vocals, the two of them harmonizing just far enough apart to get a Devo or David Byrne manic breakdown feel. The fact they aren't exactly harmonizing is what gives this one a weird tension also. There are people out there who could tell you exactly what influences make this up, what parts of the world a particular progression come from, all I know is they aren't the usual rock influences. Adding a tuba (I can't believe that's true, but this live review confirmed it) is just an example of how far they are willing to go...does it get Proggy? For a second maybe, but they always bring the songs back from avant-garde experimentalism with catchy heavy riffs for a measure or two, and they know how to use those moments sparingly. Like when it picks up near the end with a real raw, grungy guitar melody and double time handclaps which switches between open bluesy huge to muted impressive fingerpicking. You won't be able to predict where these songs are about to go, what melody is coming next, even upon multiple listens, they have created this equation that by the time you get to the end, you don't remember how it started or what you were trying to prove in the first place.

This 7" is on marbly grey vinyl from Lasercave.
Better yet, check out this great video from the series documenting bands playing at's better than these bunch of stupid words I've been writing:

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